Driving home on Sunday, I came to a set of traffic lights where a person was standing on the road, holding a sign that asked for spare change.
I was slowing down, rummaging around in my bag for my wallet when a shiny black four wheel drive came roaring up. As in, it felt like the car was accelerating. I don’t think it was the driver’s intention to hit the person on the road, I think the intention was to intimidate.
The driver leaned out of her window and started yelling at the man on the road. Appalling things. She looked into my car, and laughed. It seemed like she was trying to get me to join in? Or validate what she was doing? I felt conflicted about how to respond to her - how she was treating this man was really not okay, but my three year old son was in the car, and honestly, I felt afraid of her.
The lights changed and she sped off. I drove away too.
This isn’t a story about how I did anything helpful, at all. Nor is it a randomly plucked anecdote to illustrate how “times have changed” from some mythical glory days of yore. People have used their power to treat others terribly in the past. Regardless, it shouldn’t be that we are aiming for a “good” past, we should be aiming for something new and better for now, and for the future.
This is a story about how stark it was to me that in that moment, the driver of the car had zero compassion for the man on the road. She couldn’t see him as a person, just the likely sum of life choices that she resented. To give you an example, one of the most polite things she said to him was “get a job”.
The thing is though, if I want the driver to have compassion for the man asking for change, I need to have compassion for her too. What are the circumstances of her life that led her to think that the appropriate way to behave in that moment was to verbally abuse and physically intimidate him?
It has been a bloody difficult ~ time ~. I’m not going to go through the laundry list of the last four years, we all carry it with us in our bones. Some have the tools to process their complicated emotions, and channel them constructively. Some do not.
I have noticed a real emboldening of anger and vitriol directed at the “other”. There is a feeling of fracturing that would make the local and global community warmer and safer if we could heal it. We have 13 years until the 200th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti. What kind of home do we want Aotearoa New Zealand to be, for all of us?
Right now I’m focusing on things that are hopeful. Like, laser focused. It’s the best solution I can come up with right now.
I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but we have an election coming up, tomorrow in fact. My sense is there is significant uncertainty about what we should be aiming for, and what the implications of that are. But if we seek out the pockets of hope: there continues to be a growing number of high-profile candidates who are young. And there seems to be growing representation in terms of ethnicity.
For us at RUBY, it has been a tough winter. Winter is never easy when your game is selling clothes, but this winter has been especially difficult. I want to really acknowledge firstly the support of our suppliers (makers, fabric and trim suppliers, freight companies, you name it) over the past 6 months. Without that support, our business would look very different today.
And I want to thank you all, for supporting us. I went to a building industry awards presentation on Saturday, and honestly there is nothing cooler than seeing our pieces out there in the wild. Thank you thank you xx
Two future pockets of hope for us:
Not long until our brand spanking new store opens at Mount Maunganui! (Set that reminder!) We’ve been wanting to have our own store at the Mount for so long - we know it’s a home to so many Rubettes, and we wanted to give you a true RUBY IRL experience. We’ve just not been able to find the right space.
But, lo and behold, one came our way earlier this year! Just as the economy was starting to retract, and retail was becoming tough! What to do?
We were lucky enough to qualify for a Resilience Loan at our bank (thank you Tania and Jenny at BNZ!!), and thus, we signed on the dotted line. Without that loan we wouldn’t have been able to do it.
It’s our first store opening since 2017 (when we opened at The Crossing in Christchurch), and it has been SUCH a joy being able to play house in a new space (“WHAT SHADE OF PINK? OMG these door handles are so cool!”).
We’ve finally worked out how to engage with the consumerist chaos that is the Black Friday. I can’t share details now, but stay tuned. Don’t worry my friends, it’s woke.
I’d love to hear from any of you about the hopeful things in your life. Let’s pour all our energy into amplifying them.